Job’s Life Seems Futile
7 “[a]Is not man forced to labor on earth,
And are not his days like the days of a hired man?
2 “As a slave who pants for the shade,
And as a hired man who eagerly waits for his wages,
3 So am I allotted months of vanity,
And nights of trouble are appointed me.
4 “When I lie down I say,
‘When shall I arise?’
But the night continues,
And I am [b]continually tossing until dawn.
5 “My flesh is clothed with worms and a crust of dirt,
My skin hardens and runs.
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
And come to an end without hope.
7 “Remember that my life is but breath;
My eye will not again see good.
8 “The eye of him who sees me will behold me no longer;
Your eyes will be on me, but I will not be.
9 “When a cloud vanishes, it is gone,
So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.
10 “He will not return again to his house,
Nor will his place know him anymore.
11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 “Am I the sea, or the sea monster,
That You set a guard over me?
13 “If I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
My couch will [c]ease my complaint,’
14 Then You frighten me with dreams
And terrify me by visions;
15 So that my soul would choose suffocation,
Death rather than my [d]pains.
16 “I [e]waste away; I will not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath.
17 “What is man that You magnify him,
And that You [f]are concerned about him,
18 That You examine him every morning
And try him every moment?
19 “[g]Will You never turn Your gaze away from me,
Nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle?
20 “Have I sinned? What have I done to You,
O watcher of men?
Why have You set me as Your target,
So that I am a burden to myself?
21 “Why then do You not pardon my transgression
And take away my iniquity?
For now I will lie down in the dust;
And You will seek me, but I will not be.”
Job is in sad shape, and he doesn’t care who knows it. But in the middle of this, his diatribe takes an interesting turn. In verse 17, Job asks God, “What is man that you magnify him, and that You are concerned about him…” That certainly is at the root of all this trouble, but though we might take that as a good thing without context, Job isn’t particularly pleased about God’s “concern” at the moment.
It seems to be a recurring theme as of late, but God’s word doesn’t say life will be all roses and sunshine for those He loves. Rather, we are reminded time and again that we will have trials in this life. Some trials are worse than others, but they all have the same goal, to bring us nearer to the mark that God has set for our lives. To make us more gracious, patient, compassionate, forgiving, trustworthy, and loving.
Anyone would be glad to lay claim to any of those virtues, yet the struggles that produce them are not filled with gladness. And why do we go through all this? Because God has “magnified” mankind, because He is concerned for us, and has set His eyes on us. Ultimately, because God is good and He loves us too much to leave us wallowing around in the mud. At this point, Job certainly wouldn’t have been distraught to just wallow in the mud a bit, but God had better things in store for him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be going through this mess.
So when life is messy and unkempt, when it gets tough and even downright painful… be glad. Take heart that God isn’t done with you, and has something bigger and better in store for your life. Look for the silver lining on the clouds of life. Though it might hide for a season, you’ll find His purpose if you keep watching for God’s hand in the middle of your storm.